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Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...

Posted by tuk22 
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 26, 2014 03:54AM
The argument we are discussing is similar to the argument CS Lewis had called the argument from reason...

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1. No belief is rationally inferred if it can be fully explained in terms of nonrational causes.

Support: Reasoning requires insight into logical relations. A process of reasoning (P therefore Q) is rational only if the reasoner sees that Q follows from, or is supported by, P, and accepts Q on that basis. Thus, reasoning is trustworthy (or "valid", as Lewis sometimes says) only if it involves a special kind of causality, namely, rational insight into logical implication or evidential support. If a bit of reasoning can be fully explained by nonrational causes, such as fibers firing in the brain or a bump on the head, then the reasoning is not reliable, and cannot yield knowledge.

2. If naturalism is true, then all beliefs can be fully explained in terms of nonrational causes.

Support: Naturalism holds that nature is all that exists, and that all events in nature can in principle be explained without invoking an Intelligent Designer or other rational causes. Standardly, naturalists claim that all human thoughts and actions can ultimately be explained in terms of material causes or physical events (such as neurochemical events in the brain) that are nonrational.

3. Therefore, if naturalism is true, then no belief is rationally inferred (from 1 and 2).

4. We have good reason to accept naturalism only if it can be rationally inferred from good evidence.

5. Therefore, there is not, and cannot be, good reason to accept naturalism.[1]

WIKI Argument from reason
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 26, 2014 04:18AM
You still haven't given a clear (or any kind of) definition of what matter is. Without that, arguing about a strictly material universe, or even whether there is such a thing, is an exercise in futility.

CS Lewis' argument falls apart @ # 2. If naturalism is true, then all beliefs can be fully explained in terms of nonrational causes.

Non-rational unthinking evolution can (and has) produced conscious, thinking beings, who in turn, can form rational beliefs. The beliefs themselves were not caused by evolution, but the evolutionary process explains how sentient beings came to be. 'Beliefs' can then be explained as the result of careful observation, experimentation, successful predictions and results, done by conscious thinking beings, 'not' nonrational causes.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 26, 2014 04:41AM
Matter is frozen energy ie particles, (substance), ground for physical objects...

Do you think any of these beliefs are incoherent? Materialism? Evolution? Is Plantinga misrepresenting these positions? He isn't an expert in science but still understands evolution I'm sure.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 26, 2014 03:29PM
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Do you think any of these beliefs are incoherent? Materialism? Evolution? Is Plantinga misrepresenting these positions? He isn't an expert in science but still understands evolution I'm sure.

Yes, I think Plantinga's use of the term 'materialism' or 'material universe' is incoherent. What I think he's doing, with a bit of slight of hand, is using the concept of an imaginary universe made up solely of what he, at least, pictures as matter, and then forming his argument that evolution would be unlikely to produce true beliefs (beliefs that conform to reality) in such a universe, 'as if' he were talking about a real universe that other thinking people (who are they?) claim is the one we live in. It's a straw man. Of course, he has already begun to muddle his solely material universe by introducing non-material things into his material only universe, things like life, mental events, beliefs, etc.

I think his arguments are like the intelligent design arguments, a form of apologetics posing as purely secular non-religious arguments that, although not stated directly of course, would hopefully lead one to conclude..."Well, these things demonstrate that there must be a God."

Actually, there is no universal scientific definition or understanding for the term 'matter'.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 26, 2014 04:44PM
If there is no universal understanding for the term matter, then materialism is incoherent and should be abandoned...

But I don't think that is true.

You might want to watch a bit of that video I posted because some of the top philosophers are a part of that religious freedom project and none of them made the argument that Plantinga's use of the term materialism is incoherent...
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 27, 2014 01:27AM
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If there is no universal understanding for the term matter, then materialism is incoherent and should be abandoned...

But I don't think that is true.

Whether the the concept of 'materialism' is coherent or incoherent will be dependent on how one defines materialism and how it is used.

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Plantinga:
First, if materialism is true, human beings, naturally enough, are material objects. Now what, from this point of view, would a belief be? My belief that Marcel Proust is more subtle that [sic: should be "than"] Louis L’Amour, for example? Presumably this belief would have to be a material structure in my brain, say a collection of neurons that sends electrical impulses to other such structures as well as to nerves and muscles, and receives electrical impulses from other structures.

Plantinga, here, seems completely oblivious to the "Hard Problem" of explaining consciousness, I suspect he knows about it but it doesn't know how to fit it into his fundamentally incomplete definition of and use of the term 'materialism'. Plantinga does this by equating belief with the structural aspects of the brain.---"The hard problem was so-named by David Chalmers in 1995.  The problem is a major focus of research in contemporary philosophy of mind, and there is a considerable body of empirical research in psychology, neuroscience, and even quantum physics."--- "The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining why any physical state is conscious rather than nonconscious.  It is the problem of explaining why there is “something it is like” for a subject in conscious experience, why conscious mental states “light up” and directly appear to the subject.  The usual methods of science involve explanation of functional, dynamical, and structural properties—explanation of what a thing does, how it changes over time, and how it is put together.  But even after we have explained the functional, dynamical, and structural properties of the conscious mind, we can still meaningfully ask the question, Why is it conscious? This suggests that an explanation of consciousness will have to go beyond the usual methods of science.  Consciousness therefore presents a hard problem for science, or perhaps it marks the limits of what science can explain.  Explaining why consciousness occurs at all can be contrasted with so-called “easy problems” of consciousness:  the problems of explaining the function, dynamics, and structure of consciousness.  These features can be explained using the usual methods of science.  But that leaves the question of why there is something it is like for the subject when these functions, dynamics, and structures are present.  This is the hard problem." [www.iep.utm.edu]

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You might want to watch a bit of that video I posted because some of the top philosophers are a part of that religious freedom project and none of them made the argument that Plantinga's use of the term materialism is incoherent...

I'm not copying the arguments of those philosophers, I'm giving you 'my' arguments as to why I think Plantinga's arguments are not persuasive.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 27, 2014 05:12AM
Your response implies you have a meaningful definition of materialism and for some reason you are hesitant to define it.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 27, 2014 06:34PM
Guys and gals et al I’ve been reading this thread and I wanted to get involved but Islander is just too eloquent. His deliveries are excellent.

I agree with Islanders views on the premises that have been presented

I agree with the lack of concept and word definitions presented.

But Ils you could’ve gone further.

For example it clear that x has a rudimentary knowledge of evolution and Neurology. This is obvious from the material presented

It’s obvious he hasn’t read the latest on Evolution Psychology and Neurobiology.

There are dozens of testible hypothesis as to how belief in deities or the supernatural evolved.

And how in the name of Zeus can you not quantify “belief”?… Belief has a spectrum, it has a bell curve.

How can you use the example of the “ belief” that there is a beer in fridge when your suppose to be discussing the “belief” in a deity? One’s a leap over a puddle the other is a leap over an ocean.

Plantinga doesn’t not account for the impact self awareness had on proto hominids.

Knowing your mortality causes severe anxiety and knowing that your family will die cause even more anxiety.

Imagine being the first proto hominids becoming self aware, becoming aware of mortality and the end of self, belief in any story that reassured the self survived death would calm your psyche down. This ability is nothing but advantageous, and the genes that gave the hominid the imagination to come up with story about spirits et al, and the genes enable the brain to trick itself into believing in these stories with little to no proof they were true, saved early humanity from universal madness and eventual extinction. NP give rise to B for NP to survive thus B matters. B is reliable. It’s reliable most of the time. It’s still reliable. Read up on the placebo effect.

Hence we have evolved to believe, to have faith. That is why being an atheist is not irrational, an atheist is a frigging mutation or meme mutation, and atheism only just recently found a enivorment to flourish in thanks to the scientific method, because for the majority of human history the majority of the humanity has been hard wired to believe in the supernatural. This ability to believe in irrational concepts, to take belief to the nth degree was as important as the flint tool in the survival of humanity.

Has Plantinga read up on latest anthropology and paleoanthropology, evolutionary psychology or neuro science or maybe cosmology and theoretical physics because philosophy by itself doesn’t cut it anymore? You will not find any truth with philosophy alone. By itself it’s glorified naval gazing.

I know tuk raves about the classical logic e.g. A=A but as Islander (or was it pondy )mentioned rational philosophers aren’t that clued up on Quantum physicals. QA trounces Classical logic. Read up on Superpositioning.
And words like “evil” and “materialism” are anachronistic when discussing consciousness and the mind.
You might as well use words like “witchcraft” and “alchemy”


Seriously Tuk I hope you were being facitious when you gave that definition of materialism.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2014 06:45PM by Fascinated_foreigner.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 27, 2014 11:03PM
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Your response implies you have a meaningful definition of materialism and for some reason you are hesitant to define it.

I thought I had when you questioned me about M and E. Looking back, perhaps I wasn't as clear as I thought it was. Here's what I said;

"That's precisely what I meant when I said "naturalistic evolution" (no supernatural intervention) which most would describe as materialism." I probably should have said, "which most [[i]including me][/i] would describe as materialism.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2014 11:05PM by islander.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 28, 2014 12:43AM
Guys, I'm not defending this argument... I'm trying to understand it... And you are not helping me at all...

Islander, If materialism = no supernatural intervention, does it not imply 'everything that exists is matter/energy'? Is there another substance we are missing? You are losing me here... There are various ideas of materialism, but excluding the practical forms, do they not all imply only matter/energy exist?

For example it clear that x has a rudimentary knowledge of evolution and Neurology. This is obvious from the material presented

It's a tad more detailed then what was presented in my original link...

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In the 2008 publication Knowledge of God Plantinga presented a formulation of the argument that solely focused on semantic epiphenomenalism instead of the former four jointly exhaustive categories.[10]

Plantinga stated that from a materialist's point of view a belief will be a neuronal event. In this conception a belief will have two different sorts of properties:[35]
electro-chemical or neurophysiological properties (NP properties for short)
and the property of having content (It will have to be the belief that p, for some proposition p).

Plantinga thought that we have something of an idea as to the history of NP properties: structures with these properties have come to exist by small increments, each increment such that it has proved to be useful in the struggle for survival. But he then asked how the content property of a belief came about: "How does it [the content] get to be associated in that way with a given proposition?"[36]

He said that materialists offer two theories for this question: According to the first, content supervenes upon NP properties; according to the second, content is reducible to NP properties. (He noted that if content properties are reducible to NP properties, then they also supervene upon them.) He explained the two theories as follows:
Reducibility: A belief is a disjunction of conjunctions of NP properties.
Strong Supervenience (S+): For any possible worlds W and W* and any structures S and S*, if S has the same NP properties in W as S* has in W*, then S has the same content in W as S* has in W*. Supervenience can either be broadly logical supervenience or nomic supervenience.

Plantinga argued that neural structures that constitute beliefs have content, in the following way: "At a certain level of complexity, these neural structures start to display content. Perhaps this starts gradually and early on (possibly C. elegans [a small worm with a nervous system composed of only a few neurons] displays just the merest glimmer of consciousness and the merest glimmer of content), or perhaps later and more abruptly; that doesn't matter. What does matter is that at a certain level of complexity of neural structures, content appears. This is true whether content properties are reducible to NP properties or supervene on them."[37] So given materialism some neural structures at a given level of complexity acquire content and become beliefs. The question then is according to Plantinga: "what is the likelihood, given materialism, that the content that thus arises is in fact true?"[37]

[en.wikipedia.org]

And that is what I'm trying to figure out... If the NP includes the content, for beliefs like 'all men are mortal', we would have the same NP properties. That just doesn't seem right...

Hence we have evolved to believe, to have faith. That is why being an atheist is not irrational, an atheist is a frigging mutation or meme mutation, and atheism only just recently found a enivorment to flourish in thanks to the scientific method, because for the majority of human history the majority of the humanity has been hard wired to believe in the supernatural. This ability to believe in irrational concepts, to take belief to the nth degree was as important as the flint tool in the survival of humanity.

lol. Best explanation of atheism ever...

Has Plantinga read up on latest anthropology and paleoanthropology, evolutionary psychology or neuro science or maybe cosmology and theoretical physics because philosophy by itself doesn’t cut it anymore? You will not find any truth with philosophy alone. By itself it’s glorified naval gazing.

That, I'll disagree. But to be honest I'm past the 'philosophy is useless argument'...

I know tuk raves about the classical logic e.g. A=A but as Islander (or was it pondy )mentioned rational philosophers aren’t that clued up on Quantum physicals. QA trounces Classical logic.

No, FF. Either QP makes sense, or it makes no sense... You know very well the science of QP is seemingly incoherent.

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Although quantum mechanics is generally considered to be fundamentally incompatible with classical logic, it is argued here that the gap is not as great as it seems. Any classical, discrete, time reversible system can be naturally described using a quantum Hubert space, operators, and a Schrödinger equation. The quantum states generated this way resemble the ones in the real world so much that one wonders why this could not be used to interpret all of quantum mechanics this way. Indeed, such an interpretation leads to the most natural explanation as to why a wave function appears to "collapse" when a measurement is made, and why probabilities obey the Born rule. Because it is real quantum mechanics that we generate, Bell's inequalities should not be an obstacle.

[iopscience.iop.org]

And that is just a quick google search... Even SCIENCE shows like 'through the wormhole' have scientists who think it's possible to make sense of QP...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/28/2014 01:00AM by tuk22.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 28, 2014 05:05AM
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Guys, I'm not defending this argument... I'm trying to understand it... And you are not helping me at all...

And I'm just trying to give you my reasons as to why I don't find Plantinga's argument very persuasive. However, if we're not speaking the same language, that is, if the meanings of the terms we're using are vastly different, we're not going to get very far.

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Islander, If materialism = no supernatural intervention, does it not imply 'everything that exists is matter/energy'?

Not at all. Unless one dismisses such things as life, consciousness, and in this discussion particularly, 'beliefs', etc, as non-existant, and all that actually exists are atoms pushing each other around according to certain descriptive laws( and that would be one way of describing materialism). From what I can tell, Plantinga, at least seems to accept that these other things have some sort of existence as well. However, he seems to be arguing that a belief, for instance, as opposed to being determined by a conscious subject capable of making observations, experimenting, weighing the evidence and coming to a conclusion (a belief), a belief is, instead, determined directly by evolution in the same way that evolution produced the eye. And since evolution doesn't select for 'true' beliefs, but only selects beliefs that result in adaptive behavior by an organism, our beliefs are not likely to be "true". That is, they are unlikely to conform to reality (this is where I disagree with him). A part of the incoherency of his belief, in my opinion, is that in order to be consistent, Plantinga would have to abandon that belief since it's unlikely to be true.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 28, 2014 05:47AM
Then you have to explain when you say something is incoherent to you... e.g. My use of the term 'energy'. Do I need to qualify here? Quantum energy field? Is that better?

You know I'm an a priori knowledge guy, but I have always considered myself a determinist and somewhat of a materialist...

Not at all. Unless one dismisses such things as life, consciousness, and in this discussion particularly, 'beliefs', etc, as non-existant

No. Caused by physical processes. These things exist as NP.

and all that actually exists are atoms pushing each other around according to certain descriptive laws( and that would be one way of describing materialism).

Materialism isn't incompatible with QP. The QEF is a physical property.

A part of the incoherency of his belief, in my opinion, is that in order to be consistent, Plantinga would have to abandon that belief since it's unlikely to be true.

Plantinga argues God here... But there is other arguments. Mainly... don't believe in materialism... Accept methodological materialism... I've said this from the start...

I would have never thought materialism (screw it, I think it's coherent even if you don't =P) has this tension. I understand there is the Qualia problem for materialism, but so what? There is no logical implications just because materialism cannot account for it... Plantinga's argument is different in that it seems to create real tension... It begs you to give up the belief...
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 28, 2014 03:12PM
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A part of the incoherency of his belief, in my opinion, is that in order to be consistent, Plantinga would have to abandon that belief since it's unlikely to be true.---isle

Plantinga argues God here... But there is other arguments. Mainly... don't believe in materialism... Accept methodological materialism... I've said this from the start...tuk

So, basically, Plantinga's, argument boils down to something like this; The belief that God exists can be relied upon as being true because God exists, since it would be the case that if God doesn't exist, one's belief in the existence of God, and most of most of one's other beliefs, would likely not be true. Therefore, it is irrational to believe God doesn't exist. However, if God doesn't exist, the 'belief' that God doesn't exist would be more likely to be false, and it's irrational to believe something that's not likely to be true."---

You really don't see the incoherency and circular reasoning in his argument?

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I understand there is the Qualia problem for materialism, but so what?

Because, as I stated earlier, if I hold the belief (Qualia) that the bridge is safe, I'll walk across it. If I believe the bridge is not safe, I won't walk across it. Plantinga, apparently is arguing that the content of our beliefs ((Qualia) has no effect on our behavior, I'm arguing the opposite. How did I arrive at my belief in the safety of the bridge? By conciously(again Qualia) weighing the evidence presented to me by my senses, and coming to a conclusion. Might that conclusion be false? Yes, infallibility is not a part of my claim. But if my belief that the bridge is safe is not true (it does not conform to reality) I will be eliminated. The person with the true belief will be the one who survives. People whose beliefs conform to reality will be more likley to survive than those whose beliefs do not conform to reality.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 28, 2014 07:38PM
So, basically, Plantinga's, argument boils down to something like this..

God is not a part of the EAAN. But yeah, he will argue something like God desires us to have reliably true beliefs (or something like that) but I'll let him defend it... But again, God isn't the only argument... 1. is to have a practical view of materialism 2. Is other philosophical beliefs eg A philosophy of information (everything is information) that replaces certain materialist/immaterial/idealist concepts.

Because, as I stated earlier, if I hold the belief (Qualia) that the bridge is safe, I'll walk across it. If I believe the bridge is not safe, I won't walk across it.

And Plantinga will agree that content matters, but not in a materialistic worldview. Think about that belief for a sec... Instinctive animals, like dogs, will instinctively walk across the bridge, or not, and know if it's safe, or not, without having any belief (content) about the bridge.

There seems to be an issue with instinctive beliefs... or beliefs/thoughts contemplated after certain instinctive actions. You would think given M & E those particular beliefs would be reliable... e.g. heightened sense of fear from a predator, uneasiness of heights...

But if my belief that the bridge is safe is not true (it does not conform to reality) I will be eliminated. The person with the true belief will be the one who survives. People whose beliefs conform to reality will be more likley to survive than those whose beliefs do not conform to reality.

And Plantinga is not discussing individual beliefs... Given materialism, what is the probability that all our beliefs including evolution are likely to be true... And I showed a distinction should be made between higher order beliefs and instinctive actions...
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
February 28, 2014 08:24PM
Friggning navel gazing. Seriously tuk you still think evolution is a belief? Islander that alone would make you say why bother arguing when presented with those sort of statements. Guys once again evolution is totally ignored and you dance the endless dance of "I don't need physical proof' philosphy because it lets me make up sh8t that I can't prove to be true.I can prove that evolution is true like I can prove gravity is true


News flash your use of the word "materialism" is laugable to any theorical physicist. To a theorical physcist the word materalism is meanless who can you not know this, continue arguing over an anarchanstic word like materialism is ridiculous.


Great job cherry picking my post tuk btw.

Notice you ignored the QA crack and I love you retort on as to how evolution of the neo-cortex aka self awareness gave rise to belief in the supernatural.

And you also ignore the fact that there are degrees to belief.

And you also ignore that NP benefits from belief.
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